Thomas Carlyle

Carlyle. The colossal pride of his country he was. A thinker he was. A philosopher he was. An historian he was. Most of his life-experiences were founded upon his inner awakening and inner illumination. He stirred quite powerfully and significantly not only the Scottish consciousness and the British consciousness, but also the entire European consciousness.    

According to his philosophy, materialism and the machine-world cannot and will not illumine and fulfil mankind. It is the message of the spirit that can and will transform the face of mankind. In unmistakable terms he declared that only the life-disciplined and ideal heroes can steer humanity’s boat to the shores of satisfaction-fulfilment.  

Something more: in Carlyle’s philosophy, all human beings are in essence one, because they are of the same Source. But if one individual is more awakened and more illumined than the others, naturally he has to lead and guide the rest. Carlyle maintained that this individual has to play the role of a pioneer. He himself was one of the pioneer world-thinkers and world-transformers. Dauntless he was. Nothing could cow him. He hoisted high his lofty banner of life-awakening and life-illumining reality.  

He spoke in clear and emphatic terms with regard to the inner resource, and it was here that he was badly misunderstood. His critics saw in him an unbearable autocrat and not an apostle of a new dawn. To his admirers’ sorrow, impatience and irritation plagued his mind. Nevertheless, he made his mighty contribution to the world’s life-code. Specially his work for the world of German literature and for the French revolution made him a most significant member of the human family. His enthusiasm for German life in his early years added considerably to the German contribution to the world community. And his book on the French revolution is an immortal book. There he offers a most significant idea: an inner guidance, an unseen hand, guides and shapes the destiny of mankind. In all human actions, in all activities, in all worldly, earthly affairs there is a spirit that moves, guides and shapes the world-destiny; there is an inner purpose for outer action.  

His father wanted him to be a priest. But he became something else: a world-teacher. In fact, his father’s desire was fulfilled in an infinitely wider and more profound way. Had he become a priest, perhaps only a few Scottish religion-lovers and truth-seekers would have received his light. But by becoming an illumining thinker and writer, an historian and finally a philosopher-saint in the purest sense of the term, he offered to this world of ours his world of light, abundant light. Thus, he has become the property of the world and he belongs to the world-treasure.  

Yesterday was Carlyle’s birthday. For a moment let us offer to his soul our gratitude-heart for what he has done to create a better world, a better mankind.  

5 December 1975  

United Nations, New York

 Excerpt from Philosopher-Thinkers: The Power-Towers Of The Mind And Poet-Seers: The Fragrance-Hours Of The Heart In The West by Sri Chinmoy.